Gwyn Thomas has announced his retirement as chief information officer for Wales and informatics director for health and social services.

Dr Thomas moved back to work in Wales eight years ago, initially to head up the Informing Healthcare Programme, and then to take on wider responsibilities for IT in the public sector.

Before that, he was chief executive of the NHS Information Authority, the organisation set up to deliver NHS infrastructure by the 1998 IT strategy, Information for Health.

The NHSIA was replaced by NHS Connecting for Health in 2004. However, Dr Thomas took much of its thinking to Wales, which went on to develop a very different strategy for NHS IT to that developed in England.

This has been built around developing national IT systems that NHS organisations have been able to adopt in an incremental manner.

These have included a new patient administration system for the acute sector, Myrddin, a Welsh Clinical Portal, digital services for GPs, the Individual Health Record common record, and a patient portal, My Health Online, which is focused on transactional services such as booking GP appointments.

As CIO for Wales, Dr Thomas has also been responsible for refreshing the Digital Wales strategy and leading a number of specific IT projects, such as the Public Sector Broadband Aggregation Project and the Welsh Government Sharing Personal Information programme.

Last year, CIO UK magazine ranked him seventh in its annual CIO 100, arguing that he deserved his high place for being “smart on influencing and guiding different stakeholder groups.”

In a statement issued this morning, Dr Thomas said: “My time working back home in Wales has been both satisfying enjoyable and successful, but I feel that now is a good time to move on to do different things.

“I intend to carry on promoting the value of informatics to the safe delivery of healthcare and to take advantage of new opportunities to try to continue to make a difference from another vantage point.”

Although he will retire from the civil service at the end of August, Dr Thomas will become part-time chair of Health Data Insight.

HDI is a community interest company aiming to make healthcare information more accessible and understandable, to drive better decision making in health and social care.

Dr Thomas has further been awarded an honorary chair at the medical school at Swansea University, and will help to design and deliver educational programmes to build leadership skills for informatics professionals.

He will also be a judge at the EHI Awards 2013 in association with CGI. Entries for the awards have now closed so judges can prepare for an awards judging day in July.